Writing exercise 12: Writing character

[Using everything we’ve learned so far, I was supposed to look over past notes to generate a new idea. In my search through my Word files, I uncovered something I wrote a few months ago, which I’ve edited for your reading pleasure, though it needs quite a bit more work before I can build it into a complete story. Quite arrogantly, I’ve titled this excerpt ‘Analog in a digital world’.]

Being the leader of the entire expedition, sometimes he felt he carried all the doubt and darkness of the world in his mind. His head and heart felt heavy with guilt. Why did these people continue to trust him with this mission? How could they forgive him his trespasses and fatal errors when he could not forgive himself? It consumed him from the head down, robbing him of ordinary functions, like listening when being spoken to. By the time words landed on his ear drum, his thoughts were miles away, racing to avoid the weight of the responsibility, while his body remained. This was the semi-mesmerised state Pietà found him in.

“Oy!!!” A whack over the head and a sharp shaking of the shoulders snapped him back to the present.  “Pay attention!”

Any other person to attempt such an interruption would have swiftly been dismissed as rude but Pietà was not just anyone.

He lifted his brown eyes from the map on the table to look at his dearest friend. He smiled as he absorbed every detail of this mish-mash of organic nerves and mechanical wiring he’d come to respect. The external appearance was certainly pleasing: black curls like wire coils that bounced off the skull in every possible direction; piercing, feline green eyes; chocolate skin. Each time his gaze fell upon Pietà’s exterior he could not help but remain awestruck for a few moments. Already a war veteran at twenty seven, he had seen many things in his life, ranging from the terribly traumatic to the tantalizingly beautiful. Pietà fell into a category of their very own, beyond the shallow aesthetics of superficial beauty and traipsing into the realm of the miraculous.

All analyses of the crash had concluded it was impossible for anything or anyone to survive the force of such an impact, let alone recover from it. Yet, in defiance of all logic and reason, Pietà stood there, alive, with him, now. The surgical reconstruction and enhancement of facial features was one thing; the true miracle lay in how the doctors had salvaged Pietà’s brain, heart and entire left side after the crash. It often made him wonder whether the marriage of mechatronics with biology had been perfected such that Science had achieved the restoration of a soul. Not that many were familiar with the term in this advanced technological age.

“So what do you think?” Pietà asked, with the stern look a teacher gives a daydreaming pupil.

“I think…I think we should reconsider this whole endeavour,” he replied, striding purposefully towards the window. “We cannot spare the resources.”

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